As the Mets head towards deciding which players should and should not be on the Opening Day roster, there has been a cry among Mets fans to keep both Rafael Montero and Hansel Robles off the Opening Day roster. With his being out of options, this would mean Montero would be exposed to waivers, and he may very well go claimed due to both his pedigree as a former top prospect and with his old pitching coach, Dan Warthen, being in Texas.
Mets fans would certainly have no issue with Montero being gone from the organization. Surprisingly, even though he as an option remaining, Mets fans also want Robles gone – not just to Vegas, but out of the organization all together. For some reason, Mets fans seem to lump Montero with Robles. Why?
Looking over Montero’s Mets career, you have a pitcher who is 6-16 with a 5.38 ERA and a 1.705 WHIP. Last year, he had his best stretch as a pitcher. In August last year, he was 2-2 with a 4.15 ERA and a 1.558 WHIP. After that, he reverted back to the Montero we all knew him to be as he was 2-2 with a 6.83 ERA and 1.988 WHIP in September. Basically, Montero took that ray of hope and immediately snuffed it out.
This has not been Robles’ story at all.
In Robles’ first two years in the majors, he was 10-7 with a 3.55 ERA and a 1.215 WHIP. From an advanced metrics perspective, he had an 111 ERA+. No, he was not a late-inning reliever, but he was a more than serviceable arm in the bullpen. He showed that by performing well in a variety of roles whether it was his coming out to try to strike out a key batter or having to pitch three or more innings. He did it all, and he did it without complaint.
At one point last year, it looked like Robles was going to have a career year, and he was ready to make the leap. Through May 10th, Robles was 4-0 with a 1.42 ERA and 1.053 WHIP. He had pitched multiple innings in five of his 18 appearances. He was emerging as an important part of the bullpen. That was until Terry Collins did with Robles what he did with all good relievers – he burned him out.
Robles quickly fell apart leading to a demotion to Triple-A to figure things out. When he returned in July, he seemed to figure things out again having five straight scoreless appearances. Collins once again couldn’t help himself. He kept loading up on Robles.
Robles threw 50 pitches over three innings on August 9th, and he would be used again just two days later. In a stretch from August 17th – 19th, Robles made three multi-inning appearances amazingly yielding just two hits and no earned runs. About a week later, Robles would pitch in both ends of a double header. After that, Robles would fall apart again. After that heavy workload, it should surprise no one he had a 7.30 ERA.
That 2017 season left Robles looking for answers, which led him to working out with Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez. Between what he learned under Warthen, his work with Pedro, and now his work with Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland, he looks crossed up.
So yes, Robles should probably begin the year in Triple-A Las Vegas to figure things out. That’s a sensible approach. What isn’t sensible is getting rid of him because you’re tired of how poorly he performed after Collins abused his arm, or you hate seeing his finger points on homers. This isn’t Montero. Robles is someone who has showed us all he can pitch well. We should see him pitch well again for the Mets at some point in 2018.